Sitting down with designer Francesca Lake
We would love to hear a little more about your background and your journey in fashion so far!
I was born and raised in Jamaica, and I moved to LA last year because I wanted to get a proper education in fashion. I applied to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, and there I did a couple of competitions that really helped build my portfolio. I applied for the annual debut and was chosen to be among the 10 students who would design and showcase their own collection, and that runway show happened last April. Definitely a stressful but memorable experience. My boyfriend also proposed to me at the end of the runway, so it is a day I will surely remember!
What are your short term and long term goals?
I decided I wanted to design the entire bridal collection for my wedding - my own dress and bridesmaid dresses included, so my short term goal would be to get that done. There will be an entire fashion photoshoot done too so I am very excited. In the long term I may be open to starting my own company, but I know that regardless of that I definitely want to be working in high end fashion in the future. I am working in technical design at TOBI right now and though it is a fast fashion company, my job teaches me a lot more about fit, measurements etc so that will definitely benefit me in the future. Using the skills I’ve gained from my job now, I hope to be more of a creative director later on and to have more freedom in design.
Where do you get most of your inspiration for your designs?
I get inspired by experiences and emotions. For instance, my collection ‘Evolution in Bloom’ is based on what I felt like i had gone through since moving to Los Angeles and being immersed in the fashion world. It is a collection depicting a person in the process of personal growth, someone blossoming into a better person. It shows us the importance of learning from different experiences in your life be things positive or negative. The collection has 12 looks that are broken into 3 groups - seed, bud, and bloom. The collection does stem from my own personal experience, but I also want it to also resonate with everyone.
What is the most difficult about the design process?
Being original. Every time i think i have this brilliant idea, when I start researching I find out someone has already done it! At times it really can seem as though everyone has already touched every concept and come up with every design there is, so you really need to think long and hard during the ideation stage.
How do you define success in your career?
I think it would be when people start coming to me for guidance in terms of my seniority and I am able to play a part in the artistic direction of the company I am in. To me, success is not necessarily monetary. Sometimes people get so consumed with the financial aspect that they lose sight of the creative aspect of things, and I wouldn’t ever want that to be my case.
What is one thing you wish you could change about the fashion industry?
Hm, definitely the importance of connections and networks. In the fashion world it is a lot easier to get opportunities if you know the right people, and sometimes the right connection beats hard work. I like to think that if you just work hard you can always attain your goals so that is definitely one thing I would change.
Would you ever return to Jamaica and design there?
Probably not. Jamaica is a very small country and so is its fashion industry. As opposed to a place like Los Angeles, there are much fewer opportunities. The only viable outlet for me in Jamaica would probably be bridal clothes. I came to LA initially with the intent of getting a proper education in fashion, and now that I have completed that goal I definitely want to continue staying on in LA to build my career here.
Last question! We love the outfit you have on right now, can you tell us more about it?
Thank you! As a designer I obviously love dressing up and accessorising. I made this corset belt by myself actually! When this trend first hit the runway, I knew I had to get in on it. I didn’t want to wait for the style to be in the stores because by then it would be too late, so I went and bought the fabrics needed and made it myself. Being able to design and construct fashion pieces is a very useful skill set to have.